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Liverpool midfielder Cole proving to be just an ordinary Joe

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16 Dec 2010 08:02:28

Liverpool midfielder Cole proving to be just an ordinary Joe

He spun on his heels at the final whistle, head drooped and shoulders slumped, and beat a hasty retreat to the sanctuary of the dressing-room. Every picture tells a story and the image Joe Cole projected at the end of this sterile draw spoke volumes as another opportunity to get his Anfield career moving in the right direction slipped from his grasp. It was supposed to be the evening when Fernando Torres made the headlines, a chance for Liverpool's out-of-sorts star striker to indulge in some target practice in a game that had nothing riding on it. But a last-minute change of heart meant Cole became the centre of attention. Liverpool 0 Utrecht 0: Joe Cole fails to spark as Roy Hodgson's Reds reserves are held Hard to take: Joe Cole shared the frustrations of Liverpool fans Roy Hodgson was talked out of his decision to play Torres from the start by Liverpool's medical staff but how the manager must have wished he had stuck to his guns, as his side never looked like equalling their club record of nine consecutive European home wins. More worryingly for Hodgson, Cole never threatened to light up an evening when thousands of children were let in free to bolster the attendance or show the kind of form many expected when he left Stamford Bridge for Anfield in July. Though he came close to breaking the deadlock late in the game, when a well struck shot was charged down, the simple truth is that Cole was on the periphery for too long and was never to play with imagination. 'Players like Joe play on very small margins,' said Hodgson. 'If he had struck the shot less well, he would have probably scored. He sets himself high standards and I'm sure he came off the field feeling it wasn't the performance he wanted to give. 'He knows he is better than that and he knows he can do better than that. It was just unfortunate he wasn't able to show that. It wasn't for the lack of trying, effort or desire. It just didn't go his way and I'm afraid that can happen with forward players.' Out of sorts: Joe Cole was underemployed Hodgson may have been happy when Liverpool secured their progress in Bucharest two weeks ago but Cole absolutely was not; substituted after 75 minutes that night, the invective he screamed when leaving the pitch was picked up by television cameras. So underwhelming were his efforts then that his only action in the time since was a 10-minute spell as a substitute against Aston Villa when the game had long since been won. More telling was the fact Hodgson never called on Cole when Liverpool needed a goal at Newcastle last Saturday. When Liverpool fell behind at St James' Park for a second time, Hodgson put his faith in Milan Jovanovic to try to pilfer an equaliser, rather than turn to a man who has been capped 56 times by England and has won the Barclays Premier League three times. Here, then, was an opportunity for Coleto send a reminder to Hodgson of what he can do. With the gameresembling a training ground exercise - no tackling allowed - you mighthave expected the midfielder to revel in the conditions. Not so. Watching brief: Fernando Torres was not risked He was as flat as his teammates. The closest Liverpool came to scoring was when Jovanovic struck the Kop crossbar after eight minutes and it was no surprise there were muffled jeers at the final whistle. Yet Hodgson remained content with his decision not to play Torres. 'It was a useful exercise,' he said. 'The biggest thing is that we have a fresh team to play against Fulham. That was the ultimate satisfaction. It was a bit disappointing but, then again, 0-0 draws usually are. 'I thought it would be a nice game for Fernando and a chance for him to get his confidence back. But I also had a talk to our fitness people and they made me see that it wasn't the wisest thing to do. 'We have already qualified and, if he had played, he would have taken the place of a young player who needs the chance to stake his place in the team. And, of course, it would be very bad if he picked up an injury. They made me see sense, I listened to the reason around me and I changed my mind.'  Liverpool 0 Utrecht 0: Cole fails to spark as Reds' reserves are heldLiverpool turn to Lazio right back Lichtsteiner as Marseille sign Fanni  Explore more:People: Joe Cole, Roy Hodgson, Fernando Torres Places: Newcastle, Liverpool, United Kingdom


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